Living With Chronic Depression

Reviewed Aug 17, 2017

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Summary

  • Identify and treat medical conditions with mood symptoms.
  • Acknowledging that you are depressed is a necessary step in getting help.
  • Diet, exercise and connection with people are important recovery tools.

Millions of people in the United States alone suffer from depression that has persisted at least two years, long enough to be called chronic. If you are reading this article, chances are you already know a lot about chronic depression because you or someone you know has been living with it. You already know that it destroys your mood nearly every day, but that is not all. It also ruins your sleep, appetite, energy and ability to focus. It is one of the leading causes of suicide. You know some of the things you can do to make depression better. And some of the things that make it worse.

Some thoughts about living with depression that may be useful to you:

Check out the other possibilities. Other conditions can mimic depression. Make sure it is really the core problem by considering the alternatives with a doctor. Stressful life events from the past or present can lead to depressive symptoms that are treated in their own special way. Other psychiatric problems such as the effects of trauma or loss, anxiety, a personality disorder, bipolar disorder or psychotic disorders can look like chronic depression but have different treatments. If drug problems, medication effects, or health disorders are causing depressive symptoms, a doctor can help to identify and address them.

Face it, you might have chronic depression. But what if no other explanation fits? You have been depressed most of the time during the past two years. You have all the symptoms. You found professional help and considered the other possibilities. But you can’t blame your symptoms on anything but depression. Then it is time to admit you are depressed, because you can do something about it once you agree that it is a problem.

Look at your lifestyle. Make sure that you are doing what you can, even if some days it seems too hard to live a healthy lifestyle. Do what you can to reduce aggravation by avoiding unnecessary stressful situations. If possible, don’t take on more than you can handle in the way of responsibilities. Stick with a healthy diet, making sure that your meals are balanced to provide your body and brain with the nutrients they need. Avoid using alcohol or recreational drugs to give you a lift or keep you out of the dumps, even though they seem to work well over the short run. Get regular exercise, as it is a proven antidepressant. Arrange an activity that might raise your spirits. Keeping active is good for you, and you probably will enjoy the outing more than you think.

Work on your relationships. People are one of the most powerful antidepressants. Depression may cut you off from their good influence when you isolate yourself too much. Limit your contact with the people who bring you down. Make an effort to build your relationships with the people who bring a positive influence into your life. Keep in mind that being with you when you are depressed may be a challenge even for those who love you. You don’t need to hide how bad you are feeling, but talk about other things too. And make sure you check in with your friends about how they are doing and what is going on in their lives. You may find it helpful to attend a depression support group such as those run by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (see below for a link to their resources).

Find good treatment and stick with it. Yes, there are plenty of things you can do on your own to help your mood and increase your chances for recovery. But you also should get professional help. Chronic depression generally stays around without professional treatment. Special forms of psychotherapy, many related to cognitive-behavior therapy, have been developed to help. They focus on how you relate to other people and how you create and respond to mood-wrecking situations. Antidepressants, too, have been shown to be helpful for many. If you have tried one of these approaches without much success, consider a combination of psychotherapy and medicine. Researchers now think that this mix is more powerful than either approach alone. Whatever the treatment, be prepared to stick with it. It will take time.

Don’t lose hope! Many people with chronic depression will improve, with lifestyle changes and treatment, over time.

Resources

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
(800) 826-3632
www.dbsalliance.org

By James M. Ellison, MD, MPH
Reviewed by Gary R. Proctor, MD Regional Chief Medical Officer, Southeast/Central Region, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Identify and treat medical conditions with mood symptoms.
  • Acknowledging that you are depressed is a necessary step in getting help.
  • Diet, exercise and connection with people are important recovery tools.

Millions of people in the United States alone suffer from depression that has persisted at least two years, long enough to be called chronic. If you are reading this article, chances are you already know a lot about chronic depression because you or someone you know has been living with it. You already know that it destroys your mood nearly every day, but that is not all. It also ruins your sleep, appetite, energy and ability to focus. It is one of the leading causes of suicide. You know some of the things you can do to make depression better. And some of the things that make it worse.

Some thoughts about living with depression that may be useful to you:

Check out the other possibilities. Other conditions can mimic depression. Make sure it is really the core problem by considering the alternatives with a doctor. Stressful life events from the past or present can lead to depressive symptoms that are treated in their own special way. Other psychiatric problems such as the effects of trauma or loss, anxiety, a personality disorder, bipolar disorder or psychotic disorders can look like chronic depression but have different treatments. If drug problems, medication effects, or health disorders are causing depressive symptoms, a doctor can help to identify and address them.

Face it, you might have chronic depression. But what if no other explanation fits? You have been depressed most of the time during the past two years. You have all the symptoms. You found professional help and considered the other possibilities. But you can’t blame your symptoms on anything but depression. Then it is time to admit you are depressed, because you can do something about it once you agree that it is a problem.

Look at your lifestyle. Make sure that you are doing what you can, even if some days it seems too hard to live a healthy lifestyle. Do what you can to reduce aggravation by avoiding unnecessary stressful situations. If possible, don’t take on more than you can handle in the way of responsibilities. Stick with a healthy diet, making sure that your meals are balanced to provide your body and brain with the nutrients they need. Avoid using alcohol or recreational drugs to give you a lift or keep you out of the dumps, even though they seem to work well over the short run. Get regular exercise, as it is a proven antidepressant. Arrange an activity that might raise your spirits. Keeping active is good for you, and you probably will enjoy the outing more than you think.

Work on your relationships. People are one of the most powerful antidepressants. Depression may cut you off from their good influence when you isolate yourself too much. Limit your contact with the people who bring you down. Make an effort to build your relationships with the people who bring a positive influence into your life. Keep in mind that being with you when you are depressed may be a challenge even for those who love you. You don’t need to hide how bad you are feeling, but talk about other things too. And make sure you check in with your friends about how they are doing and what is going on in their lives. You may find it helpful to attend a depression support group such as those run by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (see below for a link to their resources).

Find good treatment and stick with it. Yes, there are plenty of things you can do on your own to help your mood and increase your chances for recovery. But you also should get professional help. Chronic depression generally stays around without professional treatment. Special forms of psychotherapy, many related to cognitive-behavior therapy, have been developed to help. They focus on how you relate to other people and how you create and respond to mood-wrecking situations. Antidepressants, too, have been shown to be helpful for many. If you have tried one of these approaches without much success, consider a combination of psychotherapy and medicine. Researchers now think that this mix is more powerful than either approach alone. Whatever the treatment, be prepared to stick with it. It will take time.

Don’t lose hope! Many people with chronic depression will improve, with lifestyle changes and treatment, over time.

Resources

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
(800) 826-3632
www.dbsalliance.org

By James M. Ellison, MD, MPH
Reviewed by Gary R. Proctor, MD Regional Chief Medical Officer, Southeast/Central Region, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Identify and treat medical conditions with mood symptoms.
  • Acknowledging that you are depressed is a necessary step in getting help.
  • Diet, exercise and connection with people are important recovery tools.

Millions of people in the United States alone suffer from depression that has persisted at least two years, long enough to be called chronic. If you are reading this article, chances are you already know a lot about chronic depression because you or someone you know has been living with it. You already know that it destroys your mood nearly every day, but that is not all. It also ruins your sleep, appetite, energy and ability to focus. It is one of the leading causes of suicide. You know some of the things you can do to make depression better. And some of the things that make it worse.

Some thoughts about living with depression that may be useful to you:

Check out the other possibilities. Other conditions can mimic depression. Make sure it is really the core problem by considering the alternatives with a doctor. Stressful life events from the past or present can lead to depressive symptoms that are treated in their own special way. Other psychiatric problems such as the effects of trauma or loss, anxiety, a personality disorder, bipolar disorder or psychotic disorders can look like chronic depression but have different treatments. If drug problems, medication effects, or health disorders are causing depressive symptoms, a doctor can help to identify and address them.

Face it, you might have chronic depression. But what if no other explanation fits? You have been depressed most of the time during the past two years. You have all the symptoms. You found professional help and considered the other possibilities. But you can’t blame your symptoms on anything but depression. Then it is time to admit you are depressed, because you can do something about it once you agree that it is a problem.

Look at your lifestyle. Make sure that you are doing what you can, even if some days it seems too hard to live a healthy lifestyle. Do what you can to reduce aggravation by avoiding unnecessary stressful situations. If possible, don’t take on more than you can handle in the way of responsibilities. Stick with a healthy diet, making sure that your meals are balanced to provide your body and brain with the nutrients they need. Avoid using alcohol or recreational drugs to give you a lift or keep you out of the dumps, even though they seem to work well over the short run. Get regular exercise, as it is a proven antidepressant. Arrange an activity that might raise your spirits. Keeping active is good for you, and you probably will enjoy the outing more than you think.

Work on your relationships. People are one of the most powerful antidepressants. Depression may cut you off from their good influence when you isolate yourself too much. Limit your contact with the people who bring you down. Make an effort to build your relationships with the people who bring a positive influence into your life. Keep in mind that being with you when you are depressed may be a challenge even for those who love you. You don’t need to hide how bad you are feeling, but talk about other things too. And make sure you check in with your friends about how they are doing and what is going on in their lives. You may find it helpful to attend a depression support group such as those run by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (see below for a link to their resources).

Find good treatment and stick with it. Yes, there are plenty of things you can do on your own to help your mood and increase your chances for recovery. But you also should get professional help. Chronic depression generally stays around without professional treatment. Special forms of psychotherapy, many related to cognitive-behavior therapy, have been developed to help. They focus on how you relate to other people and how you create and respond to mood-wrecking situations. Antidepressants, too, have been shown to be helpful for many. If you have tried one of these approaches without much success, consider a combination of psychotherapy and medicine. Researchers now think that this mix is more powerful than either approach alone. Whatever the treatment, be prepared to stick with it. It will take time.

Don’t lose hope! Many people with chronic depression will improve, with lifestyle changes and treatment, over time.

Resources

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
(800) 826-3632
www.dbsalliance.org

By James M. Ellison, MD, MPH
Reviewed by Gary R. Proctor, MD Regional Chief Medical Officer, Southeast/Central Region, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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